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Report - Watch House Battery Plymouth July 2010

Discussion in 'Military Sites' started by Lamb Phall, Jul 5, 2010.

  1. Lamb Phall

    Lamb Phall 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

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    The Magazine at Watch House battery Plymouth dates from 1902 and served two six inch breach loading guns.
    The Magazine is situated below and between the two gun emplacements, and still retains some original features.
    Plans drawn up 16/03/40 to add a third gun to the battery give the capacity of the magazine as 1100 shells and 1100 cartridges with an extra 125 complete rounds on each gun emplacement stored in the shell and cartridge lockers above ground (WO 78/5058 PT3).
    A grey painted marking ASL is on the floor of the cartridge store; its purpose is not known. The magazine is divided into two parts. The cartridge store at the back, protected by the greatest depth of rock, with the shell store at the front. The cartridge store is 60 feet long, the walls separating it from the shell store are 3 feet thick, the shell store is 9 feet wide and about 80 feet long. The ceilings of both stores are barrel vaulted and built of brick with maximum height of 8 feet 6 inches. The height at walls is 6 feet 6 inches. The wall between the shell store and cartridge store has 4 lamp recesses for lighting the cartridge store.

    Extract from Interviews with Ex Servicemen who served at Watch House Battery
    Interviews conducted by Y7 pupils From Speedwell Technology College Bristol..
    All the interviews took place at Fort Watch House in July 2001


    What you had were two six inch guns, each of the gun emplacements had a six inch gun which took a shell of about 100lbs which you loaded by hand. You virtually knelt down beside it, you tipped the shell onto your hand, making sure your fingers were clear, you dropped the shell on a shot guide put the head of the rammer (from No 4 man) from the base of the shell ram it home, put your hands behind get a cartridge, put the ignitor nearest to the end put it up to the elbow, shout "In" and make sure your hand was clear. Sergeant in charge would shout "Ready" then you would wait until second gun was ready. Fired together in salvo. Barrels were 20 ft long. They would fire 3000 to 4000 yards.

    You wanted to be reasonably fit. We fired at 8 to 10 a minute ….. We did a lot of training on a dummy loader. A good detachment would get through 12 to 14 rounds a minute. Not firing just loading. If you were actually firing it would not be more than 10.

    …. I think we only had one dummy loader. There was a hell of a lot of competition.

    We were on a watch 16 men - 8 on each gun and then about an extra half dozen others.

    The alarm could go at any time. Once the alarm went off but it was a false alarm. There were two gun crews on at night and also lookouts. You wouldn't change both guns at the same time You would change number 1 gun (crew) and 20 minutes later number 2 gun so that they (No 1 gun crew) could get use to the light and the movement.

    In the magazine we had to wear felt shoes over the boots and serge jackets with no buttons, just ties so that there were no sparks. They were spare numbers. Detailed to do their job. One storeman, paid by the Army was in charge of looking after the metal work - cleaning oiling, making sure that when the balloon went up it was all ready. Shells came up on a hoist. The spare shells were brought up ready for action in the shell lockers. There were at least 3 or 4 in the magazine loading the shell lifts, when the balloon went up. You could start shooting without any body in the magazine.

    We slept and messed down at Bovisand.

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    Daviots used as a back up to lift the shells
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